As 2022 comes to a close, I like to review what I’ve accomplished over the past year, especially what I’ve written and what I’ve read. I began the year with a target of reading 32 books. I’m proud to say that I have met that goal. I’m looking forward to matching or surpassing the same goal of 32 books in 2023. I’m well stocked on books and ready to go.
But first, I’d like to share my favorite reads of 2022. My list consists of a few favorite authors, and a few new names that I’ve always wanted to read. They are presented in no particular order.
My criteria for favorites is fairly simple and straightforward: tell me a good story. Keep me turning the pages. Start with a strong, enticing premise. Give me complex characters that I can sympathize with (most of the time). Give me a satisfactory ending. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy one (although I prefer that best) but one that makes sense and ties up all the loose ends to my satisfaction.
What about you? What books landed on your favorites list?
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
Is it ever okay to keep secrets from your spouse or family? What would you do if you found a letter from your spouse to be read upon their death, only to find out a terrible, dark secret when you finally do read it many years later while they are still alive? That is the premise for The Husband’s Secret. It’s not one of Moriarty’s more popular novels, but it is one of her better ones. While it takes an impossibly long time for the contents of the letter to be revealed, what follows is an emotional journey showing how the letter impacts different characters in the story.
One By One by Ruth Ware
This is the first novel by Ware that I’ve read, and it likely won’t be the last. From page one, Ware took me on a fast-paced thrill ride up and down the slopes of the mountains in the French Alps. It reminded me a lot of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery And Then There Were None. The short chapters with alternating points of view kept me glued to the story, but there were times when I couldn’t sleep at night.
Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult
Picoult has a reputation for tackling some tough social issues in her books, which I appreciate. In Vanishing Acts, one of Picoult’s early novels, a woman’s life is turned upside down when she learns that she may have been kidnapped by her own father when she was a child. The story raises some interesting questions about the passage of time and how time can influence what we remember about key events from childhood. The ending with its quickly developing twists leaves the reader wondering what really happened so long ago, long after the story has ended.
The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham
Set during World War II in Nazi Germany, The German Midwife is a historical fiction novel about a Holocaust prisoner and midwife who is assigned a dangerous task: to serve as the midwife for Hitler’s pregnant mistress. Every day the midwife confronts her own prejudices toward the mistress and her unborn child, but in the end relies on her own common sense and medical training to protect the young mother and infant while risking her own life.
The Family Plot by Megan Collins
In this third book by Collins, a dysfunctional family with a weird fascination for true crime is at the heart of this story. When younger brother Andy is found murdered on their secluded island, his twin sister Dahlia is quick to blame his death on the serial killer that has terrorized residents for years. As it turns out, her eccentric family and the mansion they live in all hold the key to solving the mystery of Andy’s death. Written in first person from Dahlia’s POV brought me into the story along with her.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
If you’re a fan of magic and magic realism, then The Night Circus is a must read. The circus arrives in town without notice and is open only at night. Underneath the black-and-white striped tents is a unique experience full of amazing sights and smells. Behind the scenes is a fierce competition between two young magicians who have been trained for this purpose. Only problem is they fall in love with each other and that sets in motion a chain of events that threatens the lives of the circus performers and the circus itself.
The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick
This is the first book by Patrick that I’ve read, and I will definitely read others by her. I’m a sucker for any novel involving authors, books or bookstores, and this one did not disappoint. A house cleaner of a famous, reclusive author must carry out her employer’s last wish: to complete the author’s latest novel before her death can be formally announced to her adoring fans. I loved the way Patrick handled the conflicts in the story, and happily resolved all loose ends in a way that made sense and was satisfying.
The Mistletoe Inn and The Mistletoe Promise, both by Richard Paul Evans
Evans has made a career of writing heartwarming Christmas stories. I added both of these to my favorites list because they are also among by favorite Hallmark Christmas movies, although the books include some darker back stories. All the same they are both fast, easy reads that will warm your heart any time of the year.
Honorable mentions: The following titles didn’t make my favorites list, but they were quite good anyway and are worth reading.
Sanctuary by Nora Roberts
Virgin River by Robyn Carr
Drenched in Light by Lisa Wingate
Winter in Paradise by Elin Hildenbrand
Life is Sweet by Elizabeth Bass
Three Wishes by Barbara Delinsky
Thank you for reading my posts this past year. I look forward to continuing to share my insights about writing and reading in 2023. Until then, have a happy new year, and may all your publishing wishes come true!